So there I was, being all smart and shit and knocking off two reviews with one, um, stone. I'm playing Vermintide II, and figured it would also be a good idea to check out the new HyperX Alloy Elite RGB keyboard that just dropped into the office.
The perfect crime, I thought, and it all started remarkably well.
Out of the box, the Alloy Elite RGB may not immediately justify the $269 price tag, but it's certainly an impressive bit of kit nonetheless. It's built around a supremely solid steel base, and the whole thing feels sturdy enough that you could probably batter down a door with it if you found yourself in some bizarre locked-room gaming emergency.
It's a full-length keyboard, too, so it took some getting used to - my usual office key-puncher is a venerable and compact CM Storm Rapid 1, so for about five minutes everything I typed was off by one letter, so I was all "jru ;ppl sy ,r@" until I got used to the extra length.
More irritating however, is the labelling on each key; it may seem minor, but I'm really not a fun of clever lettering on keyboards, and the Alloy Elite RGB has all the special characters beside the main letter of each key, rather than underneath, and that's something I find can really throw me when I'm hunting-and-pecking for a key, rather than touch-typing. For someone who's not a touch typist, the dramatically different profiles of each character grouping could be quite challenging.
The keys themselves are Cherry MX Brown mechanical switches, and while they're not my preferred Cherry keys (Cherry MX Blue are the best and that's a hill I am perfectly willing to die on), they get the job done. They're RGB keys, too, so at the press of a button you can enjoy a solid red effect, a gaming-focused set up that highlights the WASD keys, or a trippy rainbow pulsing effect kind of akin to a unicorn throwing up. I stuck with the gaming set up, and just got on with shooting Skaven in the face.
The Alloy Elite RGB is sturdy under gaming conditions, and the combination of weight and rubber feet means it's staying in place no matter how much hammering it gets in the heat of battle. The volume roller feels lovely when you're trying to up the sound on a game or a vid, and there's multimedia keys as well.
If you want to further tweak the lighting, and make use of the keyboard's onboard memory to store said lighting profiles... Well, that's where things get a little surreal.
You need to install the HyperX Ngenuity software to tweak the RGB lighting, and apart from that horribly name, the software won't actually work with the keyboard right away - it needed to run a firmware update.
A FIRMWARE UPDATE. For a keyboard. That's just... Well, okay, it's 2018 I guess that's a thing now, firmware updates for keyboards right, got it.
So I run the update, my keyboard goes dark and then I get a pop-up telling me I need to restart the whole PC just to get my damn keyboard working again. Which I do. And of course the keyboard seems to now be bricked. One lone light, indicating that Game Mode is currently working, but no other RGB was even tinkling, and certainly none of the keys are responding to actual typing.
Now, I am aware that these things can happen, and they do not necessarily reflect poorly on a product. But the necessity for a firmware update in the first place, for a product that is brand new, just rankles. And if I had just dropped $269 of my hard-earned on the Alloy Elite RGB, I'd be pretty ropable.
That slight issue of now being the proud owner of a very expensive, MX Blue-powered lump of steel aside, the Alloy Elite RGB is a fine effort at making a high-end gaming keyboard. It's expensive, not quite at Corsair levels of insanity. A detachable wrist-rest rounds out the package, and the thick USB cable is lovingly sheathed in cloth.
But, at the end of the day, it also doesn't work any more, so... There's that. From some judicious googling it seems that we may just be unlucky, so keep that in mind if this keyboard does appeal, and many other reviewers are rather in love with it. I don't blame them.
I, however, have gone back to my trusty CM Storm Rapid.
EDIT: We've been speaking with HyperX about this and have a second keyboard on the way - let's see how this one goes!